Positive Training Motivates a Dog to Love Learning

Victoria Stilwell is the famous face of “positive” dog-training and the star of Animal Planet’s show “It’s Me or the Dog.” At a recent lecture in Pittsburgh, she shared some tricks of her trade.

Stilwell believes that kids and dogs “should be raised in a force-free way.” Positive training “does not mean we do not say ‘no’ to a dog. It does not mean there are no boundaries,” she said.

“If you like a dog’s behavior, reward it. Positive training is about motivating a dog to love learning. Whatever your dog likes, use it — food, toys,” praise and petting, she said. “When you go to work, do you get paid? Food is not bribery. It’s powerful. Just don’t use it all the time. Use it sometimes.”

Confrontational methods and abusive handling don’t work in the long run, she believes, and they may make dogs behave aggressively. Training tools she dislikes include prong and shock collars, electric fences, long hours on a chain or tie-out and the “alpha roll,” in which trainers force a dog down onto the ground and hold it there to prove they are in charge…

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